Creative Director Responds To Xbox Series X Gameplay Reveal.
New footage of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla premiered during the Xbox Series X event this week, but some fans were hoping to see more. Creative director Ashraf Ismail has now responded to the reaction, saying he understands people wanted to see more of the next-gen Assassin’s Creed title. More details on the game, including an “in-depth gameplay” demonstration will come later on, he said.
“You rightfully expected to see more today. We have a long marketing campaign ahead of us, you will see in-depth gameplay and get a lot more info about the game,” he said on Twitter. “Thank you for your excitement and passion! Be patient with us and be kind. It will be worth it!”
Full video: https://www.gamespot.com/videos/assassins-creed-valhalla-full-presentation-inside-/2300-6452827/
The Valhalla trailer shown during the Xbox event disappointed some fans because, despite being labeled as a “gameplay trailer,” it didn’t exactly deliver on that. Instead of featuring combat or exploration, the video put more of an emphasis on the locations you’ll visit when Valhalla launches this holiday.
In Death Stranding, your character Sam carries a small baby in an orange bottle strapped to his chest. It stays with him at all times. The child, called a BB, is essentially a tool: it alerts Sam to ghostly apparitions called BTs, which dot the post-apocalyptic landscape he must traverse. The whole situation is unsettling. BB cries when it gets scared — whether it’s because of imminent danger or because you keep falling down a slippery mountain — and the haunting sound is piped through the speaker on the PS4 controller. This makes it even more unsettling.
Over the course of the game, which lasts upwards of 50 hours, my feelings toward BB changed. At first, it was an uncomfortable nuisance, but eventually, I became attached to the kid. When it cried, I’d find a safe space to rock it until it calmed down, and I always made sure to check on it when we’d bunk for the night. During the few moments in the game when Sam and BB were separated, it felt like something important was missing.
The relationship between Sam and BB mirrors my experience with Death Stranding, the latest epic game from enigmatic director Hideo Kojima, who is best known for his work on the Metal Gear Solid series. It’s not a game that makes itself easy to enjoy. There are few concessions for uninterested players. It’s ponderously slow, particularly in the early chapters, which largely consist of delivering packages over staggering distances. Early conversations are filled with phrases and words that will be incomprehensible to the uninitiated — and, honestly, much of it remains a mystery after the credits roll. But over time, that sense of bewilderment slipped away. Eventually, I found myself engrossed, digging deep into the game’s arcane lore to understand, as best I could, what was going on. It’s not easy to get to this point.
Death Stranding is a game that seems to fight you every step of the way, whether it’s with clunky menus or nonsensical dialogue. It can be downright boring, but there’s also beauty and heart to discover if you can stick with it.
Death Stranding takes place in a distant future, one that has been ravaged by a largely unexplained phenomenon called the death stranding. It wiped out cities and almost all life while opening a gate between the worlds of the living and dead. Those ghostly BTs haunt forests and mountains, and certain humans called repatriates are able to return to life from a strange underwater space known as the Seam. Sam, played by Norman Reedus, is one of these repatriates. He’s also something of a post-apocalyptic delivery man, shuttling supplies from one settlement to the next. Early in the game, he’s given a particularly ambitious task: reunite America (now known as the UCA, or United Cities of America) by traveling across the country, connecting settlements to a sort of internet-like network. At the same time, Sam is trying to reach the west coast of the country to rescue his sister who has been captured by a terrorist organization.
It’s a lot to take in, and the game doesn’t do much to ease you into its world. Characters throw out terms like “DOOMs,” “chiral network,” and “stillmother” without explaining what they mean. For the first few hours, you will likely have no idea what’s going on. Luckily, the gameplay is much more straightforward than the storytelling. Initially, all you’re doing is walking. The company you work for, Bridges, will provide a package, and you have to deliver it on foot. Like most video game characters, Sam can carry an incredible amount of stuff; but unlike his contemporaries, Sam has to account for everything he carries. Before you set out on each mission, you have to carefully arrange your load — from healing items to precious cargo — so that Sam can stay balanced.
The remnants of America look like a postcard from a particularly dreary day in Iceland. Much of your time is spent amid a steady drizzle and rocky terrain, punctuated by the occasional brutalist structure housing the remains of humanity. Your main adversary, at least in the early going, is gravity. With the uneven landscape and copious packages to deliver, Sam has to stay balanced in order to keep his precious cargo safe. You do this by adjusting straps on your back. The trigger buttons on the PS4 controller handle each side, so if Sam starts tipping to the left, you hit the left trigger and he tightens up his backpack to keep steady. Essentially, this means that while all you’re really doing is walking, you need to stay intently focused. One small slip, and your cargo can be ruined. At times, Death Stranding can feel like a big-budget remake of QWOP. Other times, it’s achingly beautiful as you stumble through a ruined landscape while ambient rock plays in the background.
Gear is an important part of the experience. You’ll have access to ladders and ropes to help you traverse difficult terrain, and eventually, you can drive vehicles like trucks and motorcycles. It’s a slow burn, though; new upgrades come at a glacial pace, making each one feel significant and important. The first time you hop into the seat of a pickup truck, you’ll be overcome with joy. (Though that might be short-lived when your battery dies in the middle of nowhere.) There are also other obstacles, including terrorists who are obsessed with stealing packages and those pesky BTs that you have to slowly stalk past, holding your breath to avoid being detected. If you get caught, you’ll be thrust into battle with a massive squid-like monster swimming in tar.
The process can be incredibly tedious, and it’s not made any easier by Death Stranding’s clunky menus and controls. But it also makes a certain kind of sense. These trips should feel arduous — and they do. It may not be fun, per se, but it’s in keeping with the themes of the game. Death Stranding takes the prototypical video game fetch quest and stretches it out to epic proportions.
As you make deliveries, you’ll slowly learn more about the world. You’ll discover what happened to America, what a BT really is, and plenty more. It won’t all make a lot of sense, but you’ll hear plenty about it. Some of this will come from talking to the people as you make deliveries, who, after complimenting you on your delivery skills, will usually explain why they do or don’t want to join the UCA. (If they don’t, that means making even more deliveries to change their mind.) There are also plentiful cutscenes in which characters with typically Kojima-esque names like Fragile, Heartman, and Die-Hardman will opine about the state of the world and how to fix it. Much of the real nitty-gritty details come from optional sources, like the many emails you can read through to learn about the history and science of the world.
Death Stranding touches on all kinds of contemporary issues, particularly when it comes to technology. Sam is essentially a part of the gig economy, taking on a constant stream of small jobs, which range from disposing of nuclear weapons to delivering a pizza. You’re able to replenish your supplies via 3D printing — that includes everything from weapons to ropes to motorcycles — and you can even automate some of your deliveries by sending out a two-legged drone on simple missions. Meanwhile, seemingly the only non-human animal to survive is an enlarged version of a tardigrade, which is Sam’s main form of sustenance. But the game never really explores these subjects in much detail, instead focusing almost entirely on its own insular story of ghost-detecting babies and the end of the world.
The game is, for the most part, painfully self-serious. Don’t expect to see Sam smile much; he even has a curious allergy that causes him to cry while staring at the sky. The world is eerily empty — you don’t see the people in the cities, aside from a hologram of whoever is in charge of the distribution center — and it’s perpetually bleak and gray.
At times, though, Death Stranding can be downright silly and occasionally veers into plain stupidity. For some reason, the only brand to survive the apocalypse is Monster energy drinks, which Sam drinks to regain stamina. And when he goes to the bathroom, you’ll see an advertisement for AMC’s reality show Ride with Norman Reedus. One of the strangest aspects of Death Stranding involves the creation of grenades. As a repatriate, Sam’s blood is deadly to his ghostly enemies, and the scientists at Bridges use this to create all kinds of weapons. But it turns out that all of his bodily fluids can cause harm as well. Whenever you rest up in your room, you have the option to shower or go to the bathroom, and everything is collected to replenish your armory. One of the grenade types is called the “number two.” Later in the game, a sick character is diagnosed with “jet lag on a molecular level.”
Meanwhile, in true Kojima style, there are many fourth wall-breaking moments. Sam will acknowledge the camera, sometimes pointing you to where he wants to go or simply winking, and if you look at his crotch too long, he’ll get angry. There are bosses that call themselves bosses and a handful of other moments that poke fun at video game tropes. There are also a lot of celebrity cameos — and not just the main cast, which includes Reedus, Mads Mikkelsen, Léa Seydoux, Guillermo del Toro, and Margaret Qualley. Explore a bit further, though, and you’ll meet a cosplay-obsessed survivor played by Conan O’Brien or a character called simply “the film director” played by Kong: Skull Island director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.
As weird and silly as all of this can be, it does produce some truly human, touching moments. Despite their ridiculous names, the cast of Death Stranding is interesting and even lovable. I found myself pushing on late into the night to find out about Heartman’s quest to find his family, and I eagerly listened every time Deadman told me his latest research on the nature of BBs. It’s a surprisingly small group of main characters, considering this is a game that lasts dozens of hours, but each one feels well-developed in their own way. By the end, when everyone bands together Avengers-style, it’s genuinely touching. The first time Fragile says “I’m not that fragile,” you’ll probably roll your eyes. But eventually, you can’t help but smile when she says it.
The same goes for many of the minor characters who have their own tragic backstories. Even some of the smaller moments add to this sense of humanity, whether it’s forcing Sam to take a shower after a long, gross journey or a button that lets you simply sit down and enjoy a moment of peace. The juxtaposition between goofy and dramatic lends the game its own particular flavor.
Over the course of Death Stranding’s lengthy run time, I spent hours with these people, read over their correspondence, and literally walked across the entirety of America trying to bring them all together. By the end, I can’t say that I fully understood exactly what was going on. In fact, as Death Stranding approaches its climax, around the same time I felt I was finally coming to grips with everything, it somehow becomes even more convoluted. But ultimately, that didn’t matter much. Yes, the mysteries are a big part of the draw, and it’s disappointing that you won’t get all of the answers you’re looking for. And even some of the ones you do get don’t make a lot of sense. (Just wait until you learn BB’s origin story.)
To fully embrace Death Stranding, you have to let go of that desire to know everything. Much like watching Lost or playing pretty much any JRPG, the overall narrative is just a means to an end. It’s a setup for creating dramatic, emotional moments. It’s not always easy to get to those moments, and you’ll have to suspend your disbelief quite often to fully enjoy them, but for a certain kind of player, that long, exhausting journey will be worth the effort.
Find the best zombie games without getting brain on your shoes
The best zombie games are starting to thaw as spring approaches, and there have never been more ways to play with hordes of the hungry dead. This list takes a more specific approach than our rundown of the best horror games; it’s dedicated entirely to the many fine ways that video games can make use of hordes of zombies. Some of the games on this list are action-packed undead slaughter fests, while others are intricate simulations where even one encounter with a shambling corpse could leave you infected and waiting for an ignoble death. Some of them aren’t even strictly scary, though as you probably can already tell, it does tend toward the horrifying. Now let’s take it from the top, starting from the great at No. 10 and rolling all the way down to the best zombie game at No. 1.
If Project Zomboid wasn’t still in early access despite first being put up for sale way back in 2011, it would definitely be higher on this list. Zomboid’s old-school isometric pixel graphics belie what may be the most ambitious zombie apocalypse simulation ever created. And don’t be fooled, this really is meant to be a simulation of what would happen to most “survivors” if the majority of their neighbors turned into zombies: they’d die.
There’s no evac helicopter coming if you can survive long enough, or any other formal objectives (at least not in the main mode): your death is inevitable and what you do until then is up to you. But if you want to live more than a few days, I’d suggest building yourself a nice little fort and maybe getting a farm going. You can only scavenge for so long before the food – or your luck – runs out. Project Zomboid is great to play alone or in multiplayer now, and I can only imagine how gripping it will be if the developers ever manage to complete their vision.
9. World War Z
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
No one part of World War Z is all that impressive on its own, but if you’re looking for a way to mow down hundreds, no, thousands of zombies with a group of friends or strangers, there’s no better game for you. It’s loosely based on the 2013 Brad Pitt movie (which was even more loosely based on a 2006 novel), but that’s mostly excuse to repurpose the one memorable thing about the film: humongous hordes of zombies that rush through streets and crash around corners like a river through a broken dam.
It clearly takes some cues from the Left 4 Dead franchise (RIP) but adds in some modern gaming standbys like selectable classes with persistent progression. You could play as a Slasher who gets extra health from taking out enemies in quick succession, a Fixer who lays down traps to secure areas, or one of four other classes. Whoever you decide to level up first, you’ll get to unload plenty of lead into moving walls of rotten flesh.
8. Dying Light: The Following
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Running over zombies was never so much fun. As the DLC for the main game, Dying Light: The Following cuts out most of the parkour from the original and instead puts you behind the steering wheel in a swathe of almost-spotless countryside. Splatter zombies into chunks of gore as you speed across the fields and leave tyre-tracks in their guts as you take on daring jumps. Just be careful you don’t get a zombie head trapped in your windscreen wipers.
We don’t really have a zombie-driving game around at the moment, and The Following plugs this niche perfectly. There’s even a new, evolved (and much more deadly) version of the Volatiles, who are instant death if you encounter one either whilst in your buggy or sneaking around at night. Regardless, you’ll have to dodge them as you drive around investigating a cult who seem to be immune to the zombie virus. The responsive steering makes careering down roads a delight, but beware: the more you swerve out of the way of zombies, the bigger the horde following you will get. Not that it’s an issue, because as soon as you take your foot off the brake, sit back, and slam that gas pedal, in no time you’ll understand why we love The Following.
7. Urban Dead
Available on: PC
Wait, one of the best zombie games you can play right now looks like an Angelfire website that still has a Y2K countdown clock? Yep. Urban Dead is a browser-based zombie MMORPG that has been running since 2005, hosting an endless war between desperate survivors and roving hordes of undead. Don’t let the looks fool you – this game runs in real time, there’s quite a lot to it, and it is intense.
Every in-game action depletes your pool of stamina (no, there aren’t microtransactions that let you buy more), so survivors have to balance traveling, foraging, and barricading to make sure they’re always holed up somewhere safe when they tire out. Zombies who run out of stamina far from a horde are just as quick to be cut down. Hopefully Urban Dead’s brilliant take on survival and social dynamics in the apocalypse will keep rolling for another few decades to come.
6. Death Road to Canada
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Android
With its grindhouse gore, chiptune surf rock, and chunky pixel aesthetics, Death Road to Canada is easily the strangest game on this list. Death Road to Canada uses the classic “I hear it’s safe there” premise to kick off a desperate roadtrip from Florida to the land of maple syrup and polite strangers, straight through the overrun rest stops and cities of the United States. Many aspects of your journey are randomly generated, including the characters you start with or later recruit, and each survivor comes with their own stats that influence how well they do at fighting off undead or recruiting dogs to their cause. You know, typical apocalypse stuff.
The random events that unfold on the road and in the top-down, zombie-dodging segments feed into one another; a few good supply runs mean you’ll have enough gas and food to choose riskier responses, but getting overconfident in either part of the game could quickly turn deadly. And this is not a game that’s afraid to perma-kill your randomly generated darlings. It smarts even more if you use the optional create-a-survivor feature to seed your game world with pixelated versions of your friends and family. No matter who you need to leave behind, you’d better be ready to start up that car and get gone if you want to make it north of the border.
5. State of Decay 2
Available on: PC, Xbox One
State of Decay 2 doesn’t fix all of the flaws of its predecessor, but it does expand its strengths. What those are, if you aren’t already familiar, are all about helping you tell your own unique tale of survival in a zombie apocalypse via a set map dotted with resources and a continual trickle of procedurally generated survivors to befriend and play as (or ignore and take their stuff when they die). Where Project Zomboid leans hard into the notion of being an average person in an unwinnable situation, the State of Decay series tries to make sure you’re having a good time with picturesque midwestern scenes and gorey fun combat, even as your food runs out and zombies beat down your gate.
The coolest new thing in State of Decay 2, though, is easily the long-awaited addition of multiplayer. Inviting friends in to help defend and scavenge for your settlement exponentially expands the possibilities of procedurally generated storytelling. And it finally gives you a chance to test out all those zombie apocalypse survival plans you’ve spent way too long hashing out with buddies.
4. Resident Evil 2 (2019 remake)
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
The Resident Evil 2 remake walks a narrow line between the slow horror of the early Resident Evil games and the faster (though still deliberate) action of the later-yet-pre-RE7 era. In so doing it manages to be both a fitting tribute to the original Resident Evil 2 and the most vital, playable RE game in years. The trick is, as you might expect from its ranking among the best zombie games, the zombies. Even though the remake’s movement and aiming controls feel modern and streamlined, every zombie can take so many bullets – even headshots – and just keep getting back up. Maybe right in front of you, or maybe a few minutes later when you think you’re safe.
Expert aim is not enough to guarantee your survival in the Resident Evil 2 remake. The most important thing is once again discretion, restoring “survival” to “survival horror” as you conserve ammo by shooting to stun, rather than kill. Sometimes you may even decide that the zombies can just have that hallway and you’d rather keep the bullets. In terms of inspiring raw terror, it still isn’t quite as potent as that other big Resident Evil remake. But it’s arguably more fun to play, which secures the Resident Evil 2 remake a nice slot of its own on our list of the best zombie games.
3. Telltale Games’ The Walking Dead
Available on: PC, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, iOS, Android
It would be a grave sin not to include Telltale’s The Walking Dead as one of the best zombie games of all time. While other zombie titles would have you endlessly chopping off heads, or blowing undead brains to bits with a shotgun, this choice-driven adventure explores the human side of the zombie apocalypse. Instead of testing your aim, this adaptation tests your social decision-making and your nerves–because damn, there’s some messed up stuff that happens in this game.
You play as Lee Everett, a convicted murderer who finds himself as the protector of an orphaned little girl named Clementine. As you encounter other survivors, you’ll end up making decisions down the line that have dire repercussions for your group members. But the worst part (yet simultaneously the best) is that you develop a connection with the characters in your party. So, when those bad things start to happen, you’ll feel like it was your friend that you just saw get eaten alive rather than a mere video game character. People will die, the unexpected will happen, and decisions will need to be made. And you’ll just have to live with the consequences.
2. Resident Evil HD Remaster
Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, PS3, Xbox 360
The thing that the original Resident Evil still gets right that so many other zombie games miss is the abject loneliness of being one of the only people with a pulse within a several mile radius. That dreadful desolation remains perfectly intact in Resident Evil HD Remaster, which is actually a slightly modernized version of the Resident Evil GameCube remake that came out in 2002. Don’t get us wrong, the 2015 re-remake could have done more (those pre-rendered backgrounds are looking a bit blurry these days) but what is there remains a seminal survival horror classic.
Far from sliding into a high spot on our list through nostalgia alone, the Resident Evil remake is one of the greatest zombie games in large part because of the interesting way it thinks about the undead. Especially what to do with one that you think has stopped moving for good. You’ll want to make sure by putting zombies down with a headshot or burning their corpse afterwards, because otherwise it could rise again later on as the hideously powerful horror called a “crimson head.” Just saying the name is shiver-inducing.
1. The Last of Us
Available on: PS4, PS3
Almost six years after earning our top spot for Game of the Year for 2013, The Last of Us remains best zombie game ever made. It takes you on a dangerous cross-country journey through an overgrown, largely post-human United States. In addition to mushroom-brained zombies that are waiting to rip your jugular out with their teeth, the world is filled with desperate gun-toting survivalists, a repressive government, and savage rebel groups. And best of all, you get to do the whole thing with a snarky teenage girl alternately making fun of you and saving your life.
Joel and Ellie’s quest is as dark as it is tense. The dilapidated, creepy environments set the perfect tone for the stealth/survival gameplay that cranks up the suspense to almost unbearable levels. This isn’t your typical go-in-guns-blazing zombie game. You’ll have to sneak past stronger foes, conserve your ammo, and scavenge for supplies. The action-packed moments let you feel every bone-crushing, face-smashing blow, and the dramatic scenes are just as emotionally engaging. If you’re looking for the ultimate zombie survival experience, The Last of Us is by far the best you’re going to get.
Still combing through (virtual) Egypt in Assassin’s Creed Origins? Chances are, then, there are still a couple of things that need polishing off before you can say you’re done and dusted in Giza and beyond. Chief among them is where to find all of the Assassin’s Creed Origins Stone Circles. It’s not an easy task, to say the least – but we’re on hand every step of the way when it comes to completing the Stone Circle locations, especially as they offer up some of the series’ most touching scenes (no spoilers here, don’t worry!)
All 12 Assassin’s Creed Origins Stone Circle locations are found down below. So, if you’re having trouble, simply go through this page to help keep track of the dozen areas you need to complete the challenge. Just make sure you have started the level five quest Bayek’s Promise in Siwa before even beginning to attempt this challenge, as it’ll handily show you the first Stone Circle location and task you with finding the other 11.
1. Amun – Siwa (can’t miss as part of Bayek’s Promise Quest) 2. Apis – Isolated Desert 3. Goat Fish – Isolated Desert 4. The Divine Lion – Iment Nome 5. The Great Twins – White Desert Oasis 6. Hathor – Ka-Khem Nome 7. Horus – Uab Nome 8. Osiris – Quattara Depression 9. Pisces – Faiyum 10. The Scales – Uab Nome 11. Serqet – Iment Nome 12. Taweret – Faiyum
Once you’ve found them all, head back to the same place as the first stone circle back in Siwa to complete your quest and earn your XP. And, I’m not spoiling anything, but you might want to go and check under the Great Sphinx in Giza. Just, y’know, to make sure nothing has changed…